ARTS, equipped with a Harley Box Rake, begins explosive-ordnance disposal activities.

Photo courtesy AFRL Materials and Manufacturing Directorate

Big Bots: ARTS, RAAS and ARV

ARTS

The All-Purpose Remote Transport System (ARTS) was developed by the U.S. Air Force for one purpose -- the help dispose of dangerous explosives. ARTS is basically a bulldozer, but instead of a bulldozer's blade, it has mine-clearing devices, a mechanical arm and a water cutting tool attached. ARTS can be remotely operated from a distance of up to 3 miles (5 km) with line of sight. It can also set charges to detonate explosives from a distance. ARTS weighs 7,500 lbs (3,400 kg).

RAAS and ARV

The Robotic Armored Assault System (RAAS) and the Armed Robotic Vehicle (ARV) are both in development by the U.S. military. These are large-scale robots (ARV will weigh 5 to 6 tons) capable of carrying up to 1 ton of payload.

Potential weapons to be mounted on these tank-size robots include the 30mm Mk 44 chain gun or a turret system capable of firing Hellfire missiles. They have been designed so that they can be carried and deployed by the military's primary cargo-carrying aircraft, the C-130 and the CH-47.

U.S. Air Force C-130 Hercules aircraft

Photo courtesy Department of Defense

In the next section, we'll meet some robots that can take to the air.